Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Success never paid so poorly

The Employment Predicament
I had three interviews today, all of which went quite well.  I think in each of them I spoke well, sold my skills, created a good impression and developed a positive relationship with the potential employer.  In two of the three cases it became apparent that the interviewers had quite high perceptions of me - indeed, surprisingly so!  If I was looking to settle down and make a career in hospitality I don't think I would have a problem.

But I'm not.  I want three (er... make that two now) months of solid work.  I'm willing (and able) to work hard, work well - be a model employee with extras.  Even skirting around this issue employers can smell temporarity on my breath.  The market is such that, for most places, I'm not even worth considering.

Tomorrow I'm doing a bit better than three interviews - I have two trials.  Trials are what you want because if you can do the job it makes it hard for someone not to give you work - even if they don't need you.

Other News
In other news, the aikido sessions I was hoping to get involved with have been moved to 7am - with my present sleeping habits I would be getting up little more than halfway through the night to make them.  If I can bring myself to it, though, I would really love to have the impetus to get up early three days a week.  We'll see how it goes.

The 'free salsa' classes are not as utterly free as hoped.  They are, however, pretty damn good regardless, and when I start earning enough not to be depleting my savings on groceries I'll hit them up for sure - $9 classes with a pretty cool teacher, a really positive class in funky establishments, with ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO CHARITY.  How hot is that?  You'll have to let me know if you're interested, AFAIK they are an SMS + mailing-list only organised affair. 

My 'daily occupations' list has grown beyond what could reasonably done in a day - it's great being able to keep myself busy, and I'm finally getting to the point of needing to prioritise and cut out (otherwise worthwhile) occupations.  Only problem is not getting paid for any of it.

I really am sounding like a broken record, aren't I.

@JohnSBaxter (coming soon!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Melbourne - perhaps not as 'Sydney' as it first seemed

Today has been really the first time that I have started to pick up on distinct differences - in the people, and other things - between Melbourne and Sydney.

After a few days faffing around online, and some short shifts at Roberto's fine Italian restaurant, I was back out and about running around trying to give people my resumes.

One thing I can say, Melbourne is a shit town to be finding hospitality work in. Yes at the moment I think it is unusually tough, but in general it seems like a place very hard on its servicepeople. I was sitting at one prospective today, the manager looking over my experience and basically explaining that Melbourne is too particular about its coffee for my experience to qualify me. Then explaining, that while that particular establishment didn't offer rates like that, a good barista could be earning as much as $18-19 an hour.
In Sydney that is award wage! At the agency I worked for, they would apologise for offering me shifts as a standard waiter, which Only pays $18.50.
Today's most promising lead explained that the starting rate there is $11. No, that's not per half-hour, that's per hour! And you know what, I'm not in a position to complain. If I'm offered work there, I'm taking it.

With a bit of luck, one of my other leads will pull through, however. Wandering down Brunswick St this evening, a number of the pubs there are looking at hiring in the next few weeks - if not immediately - and if my previous employment is anything to go by I might actually earn reasonable wage behind the bar.

Don't think I am becoming disheartened, however. I mean, my current financial situation is on the lean side of undesirable, but I am enjoying wandering around Melbourne. I do have memories of jobsearching as overly unpleasant, but as often as I'm being turned away, wandering the streets and chatting to whoever I can find is quite an engaging way to pass a day.

I will get back to the point I started with: Fitzroy. It is a beautifully vibrant place, on first impression. I was walking the streets at 10:30pm, and there was as much traffic as there was at 6:30. Pubs were busy! Busy! On a Monday night - and not one, but many - probably about half of Brunswick St, and every 'trendy' pub, had a whole crowd. It was quite a shock, but really very cool. And the people...? I don't know what they would be like to live with, but great to get a taste of - SO trendy. You think in Sydney you know what 'trendy' is? Think again. Pick your average, young, semi-grungy fashinable Newtown type. Add money, and multiply by a few hundred, and you have the Bimbo Deluxe punterage on a Monday night - and this is not an average, but the rule. Everybody was young, and everybody done up an an effortful, moneyed-up grungy sort of way. I was wearing black trousers and a blue business shirt, and I was getting looks - the kind of looks Sydney people are too polite/scared to undertake in public. Not since wearing a trenchcoat to Manly in my teens have I really found myself an odd one out. I should be glad, I suppose, that I'm old enough not to care, which is good, because that made it quite an interesting experience.

And the CBD? It is not at all uniform like that, but there are still pockets of extreme trendiness. Melbourne is not like Sydney, with a CBD composed virtually entirely of suits. The city is pocked with laneways, which are oases of pretty people. A fabulous place to wander and oggle - it is not just attractive girls, but excessively fashionable, painstakingly pretty people, of each gender. Really quite a show, and really somewhere worth going to just hang out in a way that nowhere in Sydney really offers. (Pretty people are my favourite people after all.)

So Melbourne... I'm really enjoying hanging about, though my stay is yet to actually involve actually getting anything done. With a bit of luck my next post will be about how that is changing.

@JohnSBaxter (coming soon!)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Melbourne Town: New Revisions - am I really a Sydney Boy?

You know what's worse than not updating a blog?:
Teasing your readers by leaving a post unfinished, thinking up five more posts in the meantime, and still not writing anything!

I will start at the end - at the present - and work my way back.

Warning: ranting follows

I am sitting here wondering whether I really am a 'Sydney Boy' - or, more accurately, reconsidering whether I should be calling myself one. (If you want to engage me with ranting ontology I suggest you do, but not here - for today that's enough!) Sydney has always featured as the hub and my home, the centre and the default, of all my travel plans. It's like bar (think Tip - remember playing that?), but also a wall against which all other travels cast their shadows. You, my readers, are in the large a big part of that - my shadows are not just a perspective, they are being written here most literally!

Melbourne is bringing this on. No, I am not - not yet - falling in love with Melbourne Town. I'm just thinking about my plans, and these thoughts are bringing out with clarity the assumptions I have made about my locus, making me reconsider the authority of these assumptions.

You can take the student out of the university, but you can't take the anti-authoritarian bloodlust out of the student. ;)

Well this student is trying to 'work things out' in Melbourne, and the plan is needing to be changed. I expected to walk into town, pick up two or three choices of job, 40-50 hours a week - locally, I might add - and be fine and dandy. It is not to be! The reception I am getting, as someone planning to be in town six weeks (five now), is lukewarm at best. Most places aren't even bothering to take my resume off me.

So the plans are changing. But the change is good!

You so often hear about the importance of being positive and optimistic - opportunistic - when faced with unexpected and adverse situations. This, I can tell you, is more than smiling at the clouds and telling yourself you're happy for the garden... Having my plans slip away under the influence of reality is actually quite exciting: the plans are no longer failed plans, but memories making way for new plans.

I don't yet have those plans, I don't know what they will be - but I am excited, because they will be good. I am not hoping on it, I am working on it - I will make them good. That is exciting too - the agency.

That is one of the goals of this 12 months: developing agency. The kind of agency which not only develops the plans, but the kind of agency which refuses to submit to the default.


Bright was becoming a box. I did not express it to myself as such at the time, but I could feel it - I spent a week too long there, and it was not just because the town was getting quiet, it was because I was getting quiet too. The grass of Bright was growing beneath my feet, the grass that was defining the paths that I was walking on. I can't live in a place like that, in a job like that. I need a town that lives and changes of its own accord - and a job which does not sit still, a job which does not asymptote to a standard of excellency and that is That.

As long as I'm ranting, I will point out how this rant could follow the disestablishmentarian pathway; how I could vent against The Man who will be attempting to pin me down into being The Employee at every corner. But I won't, I will save you that. That rant is a box neither of us needs.

I will ask you, though: if what I am describing is the world that I am looking for, how can I go about finding it? Today, I am working towards agency - and I think I am doing alright, except that I am yet to hit on results. But in all the years to come? Is there some sort of stable instability I should be searching for, or should I always be looking to go 'the other way'?

As one last gasp (before I go under?), I want to thank everyone who is reading these, and an especial thanks to everyone who has responded to them, in whatever way - your responses make a world of difference. Thank you.

@JohnSBaxter (coming soon!)